HARTFORD, November 13, 2010: Whalers Sports & Entertainment today announced the "Hartford Distributors/Bud Light All-Time Wolf Pack Team", as voted by fans on-line at www.ctwhale.com. The announcement came in conjunction with the AHL franchise's last home game as the Wolf Pack, which was tonight at the XL Center vs. the Springfield Falcons, before the team is officially re-branded the Connecticut Whale on November 27.
Fans were asked to choose three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender for the All-Time Team. Former long-time captain, current head coach and franchise icon Ken Gernander led the fan voting as one of the forwards. The other forwards were Derek Armstrong and P.J. Stock, the defensemen were Dan Girardi and Dale Purinton, and the goaltender was Jason LaBarbera.
Gernander has been with the Wolf Pack since Day One and is the only player in franchise history to have his number (12) retired and raised to the XL Center rafters. A fifth-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1987, Gernander played 14 professional seasons, the last 11 in the New York Rangers organization with their AHL affiliates in Binghamton (1994-97) and Hartford (1997-2005). He was team captain for 10 years, eight in Hartford, and is the Wolf Pack's all-time leader in shorthanded goals (14), plus-minus (plus-93), games played (599) and playoff games played (78). He also ranks second all-time in goals (160), assists (187), points (347), power-play goals (50) and game-winning goals (30).
After retiring as a player after the 2004-05 season, Gernander was an assistant coach under Jim Schoenfeld for three years and is in his fourth season as head coach. He retired as the AHL's all-time leader in career playoff games played (123), and is the second all-time leading scorer among American-born players with 624 points in 973 games. He has the most coaching victories in franchise history (136 going into tonight), having passed AHL Hall of Fame member John Paddock's 130 at the end of last season.
Armstrong retired this year after a 17-year pro career that included 72 goals and 149 assists in 477 NHL games in parts of 14 seasons with the Rangers, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. The sixth-round pick of the Islanders in 1992 was the Wolf Pack career leader in assists (204), third in goals (105), points (309) and plus-minus (plus-62), fifth in games played (265), tied for sixth in power-play goals (26) and tied for seventh in game-winning goals (10) and shorthanded goals (five). He won the Calder Cup playoff MVP in 2000, when he had 23 points in 23 games, and the Les Cunningham Award as AHL MVP and John B. Sollenberger Trophy for the scoring title in 2001, when he had 32 goals, and Wolf Pack franchise records of 69 assists and 101 points, in 75 games.
Stock, signed as a free agent by the Rangers in 1997, had 25 goals, 45 assists and 742 penalty minutes, third highest in franchise history, in 160 games with the Wolf Pack. He was a member of the 2000 championship team and scored the first home goal in Wolf Pack history in the Pack's first-ever home game, a 2-2 tie with the Portland Pirates October 4, 1997. He later played for his hometown Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, finishing with five goals, 21 assists and 523 penalty minutes in 235 NHL games. He also played in the AHL with the Philadelphia Phantoms and Providence Bruins before being forced to retire because of an eye injury.
Purinton, a fifth-round pick of the Rangers in 1995, is the Wolf Pack's career penalty minutes leader (1,240), is tied for eighth in plus-minus (plus-38) and had 13 goals and 27 assists in 215 AHL games, the last 80 after his NHL career ended. Purinton had four goals, six assists and 578 penalty minutes in 181 NHL games with the Rangers. He retired after the 2007-08 season and now coaches the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the British Columbia Hockey League
Girardi signed an AHL contract with the Wolf Pack in 2005, joined the Pack from the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL early in the 2005-06 season as an emergency call-up because of injuries and was on his way to the NHL. He had 10 goals and 53 assists in 111 games with the Wolf Pack before being called up by the Rangers midway through the 2006-07 season. He never returned to the minors and has 21 goals and 66 assists in 295 NHL games with the Blueshirts.
LaBarbera, a third-round Ranger pick in 1998, holds nearly all of the team's goaltending records and is now with the Phoenix Coyotes, his fourth NHL team. In 31/2 seasons with the Wolf Pack, LaBarbera had a record of 91-54-18 with 21 shutouts, including an AHL-record 13 in 2003-04 season, when he won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL MVP and Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award as the league's top goaltender after compiling a 34-9-9 record with a 1.59 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, all the best of his career and Wolf Pack records.
In 2004-05, and again with the Manchester Monarchs in 2006-07, LaBarbera won the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award as one of the goaltenders playing a minimum of 25 games for the team with the lowest goals-against average. In 2004-05, LaBarbera was 31-6-2 with a 1.84 GAA and .934 save percentage as the Wolf Pack allowed only 160 goals.
Following that season, LaBarbera signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings, where he went undefeated in his first seven starts as a backup to Mathieu Garon. He was with the Kings for 21/2 seasons before being traded to his hometown Vancouver Canucks for a seventh-round pick in 2009 on Dec. 30, 2008. When the Canucks didn't re-sign LaBarbera after the 2008-09 season, he signed with the Coyotes.
After tonight's home battle against Springfield, the team's next home-ice action is Saturday, November 27, a GEICO Connecticut Cup game against Bridgeport (7:00) faceoff, and that will be the first time the franchise officially skates as the Connecticut Whale. Tickets for that, and all 2010-11 home games, are available now at the XL Center box office, through Ticketmaster Charge-by-Phone at 1-800-745-3000 and on-line at www.ctwhale.com.
Season tickets are also on sale now. For information on season seats, and all of the franchise's many ticketing options, visit www.ctwhale.com, or call (860) 728-3366 to talk with an account executive today.
The AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack/CT Whale is operated by Whalers Sports and Entertainment, a Hartford-based sports marketing and event firm founded by Howard Baldwin. The team is the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers.
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